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September 20, 2005 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Weight lifting in prisons & correctional recreation. With interesting legal commentary and videos.
posted by saysthis (24 comments total)

 
Interesting stuff. Lifted out of context, though, some of these are quite amusing.

Negative Issues:

8. It is time to get tough on criminals.

10. Prison is not supposed to be a "nice place." We don't want them to want to come back again and again.


Why should I bother with paying the $35 per month at Gold's Gym, when I can always boost a car, and get sent back to the lockup, where I can work out for free?
posted by psmealey at 5:56 AM on September 20, 2005


correctional recreation - is that the new slang for bubba getting his jollies?
posted by FlamingBore at 5:59 AM on September 20, 2005


Interesting link, if only to confirm all the positive and negative aspects. Here in Northern Ireland, when prison was still a longterm training- and orientation-school for career paramilitaries, I don't think they let them have weights. That would have made a career criminal into a big strong career criminal.
posted by paperpete at 6:26 AM on September 20, 2005


If i was in prison I think possibly the only way to stay sane would be to lift hardcore weights, to get huge and powerful enough to beat the shit out of the bastards that raped me when I arrived.
posted by snoktruix at 6:36 AM on September 20, 2005


If we make the assumption that they are a "career criminal" shouldn't we just lock them up for life?
posted by j-urb at 6:55 AM on September 20, 2005


Thrilled at the compassion for fellow human beings here, folks. Reading some of the materials on the site, it would appear that one of the goals of the private companies running prisons these days is to wring all of the cost out of warehousing people, and one way to do that is to hire incompetent guards who can keep soft, flabby inmates in line, since they won't be able to get productive recreational time.

Yeah, give 'em cigarettes and let them stand around in the yard. Or, hey, what about chain gangs? Don't we still need to break big piles of rocks into tiny little ones?
posted by beelzbubba at 7:15 AM on September 20, 2005


If we make the assumption that they are a "career criminal" shouldn't we just lock them up for life?

I think we should jut make the assumption that we can tell who is a career criminal and just lock all the bastards up for life, no weights, just a TV/VCR combo and a jazzercize tape.

That'll teach em.
posted by illovich at 7:17 AM on September 20, 2005


Reading some of the materials on the site, it would appear that one of the goals of the private companies running prisons these days is to wring all of the cost out of warehousing people, and one way to do that is to hire incompetent guards who can keep soft, flabby inmates in line, since they won't be able to get productive recreational time.

This reminds me... wasn't there a Daily Show segment about a warden who abolished exercise and replaced all the food with high fat, high carb comfort food, which resulted in a net weight gain of like 30 lbs/prisoner?

It was so funny, except for the increased risk of heart disease.
posted by illovich at 7:20 AM on September 20, 2005


Most prisoners are underdeveloped mentally, not physically. If they want to lift something heavy, give them big books. Books and paper and pencils. Let test scores convert to rewards in a bonus system. "You want to lift weights? That's what people with an associate's degree get to do."
posted by pracowity at 7:47 AM on September 20, 2005


Most prisoners are underdeveloped mentally, not physically. If they want to lift something heavy, give them big books. Books and paper and pencils. Let test scores convert to rewards in a bonus system. "You want to lift weights? That's what people with an associate's degree get to do."

I would rather have strong stupid criminals than smart ones.

Besides, there really isn't a lawyer shortage.
posted by srboisvert at 7:57 AM on September 20, 2005


From personal experience visiting someone in prison, hearing many stories, and seeing a few things, I don't think having weight facilities in prisons is a problem. Yes, most of the inmates were heavily muscled, and it was quite funny seeing the mostly flabby guards imperiously marching them in and out of visitation. However, a lot of the inmates were there for things like drug use or making one bad mistake while black. I met many of the guys the person I visited befriended after they all got out, and none of them were violent or dangerous people. People often have the misconception that the majority of prison inmates are bad people.

The violence I heard about often involved shanking or the use of other improvised weapons. Sure, you can make your inmates fat and weak, and it will probably reduce the number of guys roughed up in regular fights, but you won't stop people from using sharpened spoons to win an argument.

pracowity: The prison had a community college and vocational skills type program that many inmates took advantage of.

I was only worried about the safety of the person I knew in prison was when he developed a dangerous medical condition and the prison put off allowing treatment for months. When we visited him right before he finally got surgery, he looked horrible, and the consensus is that he probably came within a few days of dying. Also, the prison denied this guy his deserved early release because he made the mistake of taking a book keeping job and making himself valuable to the prison as a skilled worker. There are plenty of problems with U.S. prisons, but I don't think weight rooms are one of them.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 8:35 AM on September 20, 2005


Yeah, give 'em cigarettes and let them stand around in the yard.

Some prisons and jails now prohibit smoking, actually.
posted by scratch at 8:36 AM on September 20, 2005


From the article: "Apparently, regular training with weights tends to bolster significantly feelings of personal pride, confidence, and self-worth, but it does not tend to place the self at an elevated status in relation to kin and friends. Similarly, Moral-Ethical Self, which denotes feelings of being a "good" or "bad" person and relationship to God , and Self-satisfaction, do not seem to be significantly influenced by weight-training when compared to non-weight trainers."

I couldn't agree more.
I know next to nothing about corrections. I have a student that's on a SORT team, that's about it.
But I do know that elevated self-worth can obviate the need to join a gang and/or participate in criminal acts. Most people join gangs, etc. because they are intimidated. Their low self esteem makes them easy to dominate. In addition, it's those feelings of worthlessness that makes them antagonistic in the first place.

Most, hell, EVERY sucessful martial artist I've ever met is calm and confident in the face of conflict. The same could be said for serious weightlifters. The commonality is the self discipline and sense of one's own ability not predicated on what others think, but on the achievement of one's own goals.

This state of mind can certainly be achieved academicaly, but not everyone responds to that as a discipline. One can see the immediate or nearly immediate results in lifting weights as opposed to educating oneself.
I would posit as the Athenians did, that a healthy body and healthy mind are intertwined and necessary for a healthy psyche.

When you get what you expect from yourself, you tend to be less concerned with what others think and as a corollary, less concerned with being critical of others. Because you know that you are responsible for your own acts as others are responsible for theirs.

Acceptance of this fact, which is often gained through weight training, I would think would go a long way in reforming 'criminals' who, again - just hearsay on my part - as I understand it very often insist on their 'innocence' or on how they were not responsible in some way.

I can say from personal experiance, that it straightened me out as a young man in a way that neither my books or my brains could. I was probably headed for the penitentiary otherwise.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:47 AM on September 20, 2005


I would rather have strong stupid criminals than smart ones.

Absolutely, if they get qualifications they're only going to price themselves out of the job market and then have to return to crime. It's obvious.
posted by biffa at 8:50 AM on September 20, 2005


This state of mind can certainly be achieved academicaly, but not everyone responds to that as a discipline.

If you're in for life, sure, try to look like Popeye. Muscles will make you a more effective thug in the land of thugs. But if you plan on starting a normal life on the outside, get a degree (or two or three, depending on how long you're in for) or at least some technical certificates so you can walk out with the skills you need to stay out. Education will pay off financially and socially and its advantages will last a lifetime even if you stop pumping mental iron.
posted by pracowity at 2:56 PM on September 20, 2005


Certainly, pracowity. But lifting weights is a start. Resources are more than just money or property. Many people don't start off with much in the way of mental resources.
Not at all stupid, simply ignored, unexposed, and profoundly uneducated etc.

There are kids in poverty areas, some of them surrounded by affluent areas, who don't know much about - say - personal hygiene. A lot of it is reenforced by others who think educating yourself is acting up.

/Even in relatively wealthy areas I understand students tend to downplay their academics. I got in a lot of fights in grade school simply because I had a large vocabulary and got good grades.


When I was in boot, they taught us how to brush our teeth and otherwise keep our teeth clean and other sundry skills that irritated me to have to go through, but some recruits were from impoverished areas and didn't know thing one about dental hygiene.

I suspect many folks are unaware just how basic many of those folks need to get. Some know enough to wipe their ass and thats it.

Some don't know how to learn or that they can learn. Some don't even know that they can achieve goals they set.

In that context you're asking "Why don't they learn point process theory so they can be better neuroscientists? It will pay off financially and socially...etc"

So I'm saying, they have to learn to tie their shoes first to get them on the bus to get them to school where they need to learn the layout of the school to get them to math class which eventually will lead to the path to point process theory.
If my goofy analogy makes sense.

But the resources aren't there. You can't shove a teacher and some books at someone who doesn't understand the value of education and whose environment reenforces that, much less doesn't know that they don't know how to learn.


I guess a better analogy - try telling someone on the outside they aren't free.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:09 PM on September 20, 2005


Teach 'em Yoga, take away the weights. Personally, I think prisons should take steps to make their inmates as passive as possible, short of drugs or playing Kenny G.
posted by Atreides at 5:09 PM on September 20, 2005


Playing Kenny G doesn't make me passive.
posted by wilful at 5:53 PM on September 20, 2005


Imprison Kenny G!
posted by pracowity at 9:16 PM on September 20, 2005


I'd rather have Kenny G than Yanni.

...of course, I masterbate to banjo music, so...


..I've revealed enough.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:08 PM on September 20, 2005


Most prisoners are underdeveloped mentally, not physically. If they want to lift something heavy, give them big books.

i know some hella smart motherf*ckers (young guys who got busted for being involved in the war on drugs in one capacity or another ) who turned their lives around in the joint by getting into physical fitness, and subsequently got out and have made a clean living teaching others about health and fitness as personal trainers or going on to studies in the areas of physical therapy etc... weights, weight training, and physical fitness are one of the few areas where inmates can work on self esteem - as any real educational resources/training have long since been gutted.

for the dollars invested in a few pounds of iron - tax payers are getting back tons in return.

that said... i also know some cats that would be more than happy to discuss their views on the issuewith psmealey or pracowity in person ...
posted by specialk420 at 12:59 AM on September 21, 2005


i also know some cats that would be more than happy to discuss their views on the issuewith psmealey or pracowity in person ...

Yeah, see, that's what these guys don't need: to be made more intimidating physically. They need to make themselves intimidating mentally. If they think drugs should be legal, they should train themselves to become lawyers and lobbyists for such an effort. If they think the public education system has failed them and people like them, they should fight to correct that problem for kids coming up -- at the very least, they should be ready to become teachers. If they think racist policies put them in prison, they should come out ready to help fix the problem, not ready to continue the problem by re-entering life as an undereducated scary muscleman representative of the race. They should come out of prison with a pumped mind, come out ready to kick a giant corporation's ass singlehandedly (and maybe get rich along the way) with the mere filing of a suit.

And it's not a dichotomy -- one can lift weights for fun and vanity and in-prison self-defense while going after a serious education. The important thing is to know which one will serve you best and serve you longest in the world where you want to live. If you want to live where muscles prevail, go ahead and concentrate on weights, then move into a physically rough neighborhood when you get out. But if you want to live where minds (and the money that minds earn) prevail, you've got to improve your mind in anticipation of your big move to braintown.
posted by pracowity at 2:17 AM on September 21, 2005


pracowity said:
"If they want to lift something heavy, give them big books. Books and paper and pencils. Let test scores convert to rewards in a bonus system."
And srboisvert replied:
"I would rather have strong stupid criminals than smart ones."
People that are educated/educate themselves in prison are probably less likely to commit crime on the outside. But it's instrumental to look at how federal funding for education inside of prisons has been slashed. The reform aspect of incarceration has been lost. Look at the prison population through the lens of class-analysis. The majority of people in prisons in the USA are an under-educated, underclass. I am sure that must have been some statistical analysis done somewhere on this, but the proportion of the prison population with MBAs will certainly much less than the number of MBAs in society at large. I also wonder what the re-offending rate is for prison-educated versus non-prison educated criminals is?

Weight-lifting, along with yoga, are great pass times for prisoners to be involved in. They teach discipline, goal-setting and attainment, patience, focus, improve health and self-confidence, etc.
posted by xpermanentx at 5:43 AM on September 21, 2005


Weight-lifting, along with yoga, are great pass times for prisoners to be involved in...

The same could be said for ballet and opera. Don't encourage more tough guy crap in a place full of tough guys.
posted by pracowity at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2005


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